NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The owners of the Tower & Porter Block are planning to renovate the 125-year-old structure into a boutique hotel.
Michael Gazal and Veso Buntic of Long Island, N.Y., operating as Eagle Street Holding LLC, have an application before the Planning Board on Monday for a special permit for a change of use to convert the building into a contemporary hotel.
Plans drawn up by Barry Berg Architect of Brooklyn, N.Y., would create 27 double-occupancy rooms of varying size, each with private bath, in the 3,330 square-foot building. The two storefronts are envisioned to become restaurant and bar spaces. The basement will be used for services, storage and food and beverage preparation.
"Energy efficiency and sustainability will be implemented according to state and local requirements," according to the letter from the architect. "The existing structure will be preserved in the conversion."
The plans also include repairing and updating structure, such repointing the brick, replacing the single-pane windows with double-glazed, repairing and painting the trim and cornices the existing blue color, and reconfiguring the roof to improve drainage. A canopy will also be added over the center lobby entrance.
The lobby will be on the first floor on the Eagle Street side; the building also fronts North Church Street from the second floor. To make the building accessible, the plans are to keep the entrance as the center door, which will be lowered to the sidewalk, and install a wheelchair lift from there to the first-floor lobby. The exterior landings on the two retail sections will be extended into the building because they are not currently code-compliant.
Parking would be in reserved spots in the Center Street parking lot. According to the plans, guests would approach the hotel via the passageway between Desparados and Eagle Street Artisans.
The four-story brick building at 34-36 Eagle St. has been vacant for years. It was purchased in 2014 by a New York woman who was unable to bring her vision of the building to life. Gazal and Buntic purchased the property in November 2016 for $60,000. They bought the Dowlin Block on Main Street six months later.
The city has assessed the property the building sits as worth more than the structure: $70,800 for the land and $22,300 for the building. The block currently contains 11 units, with nine rooms and four bedrooms.
The Tower & Porter Block takes its name from the two plumbers who built it, according to local historian Paul W. Marino, who notes their faded advertisement can still be made out on the building's south wall.
When the building was sold in 2014, Marino said it was notable for its architecture and the cupola on the east side. The building's fire escape on Church Street, with its ringed stars on each step and a counterbalance that runs through a wooden shaft, is one of the few left in the city.
The storefronts on the Eagle Street have their original casings and once held the offices of Elder Printing that consolidated its operations and moved to Williamstown more than 20 years ago. A number of businesses operated out of the structure and rooms were rented out in its upper floors. Former Mayor John Barrett III had often raised the potential for a boutique hotel in the building.
Should the plans be approved, the project will be the latest hotel construction in North County. Tourists, the former Redwood Motel, is nearly completed and two hotels are under construction in Williamstown — the new Williams Inn and a 95-room hotel at the site of the former Grand Union. Greylock Works in North Adams also plans a hotel component as part of the renovation of the massive former textile mill.
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Drury Graduate to Direct Horror Film in North Adams
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Drury High School graduate is hoping to bring his dream — or, more appropriately, his nightmare — to film life.
The horror film "The Uncredited," written by Nick Burchard, will be filmed in North Adams this spring, pending fundraising and the COVID-19 pandemic. Burchard's Tiny Viking Productions is making the film in conjunction with Sancha Spiller and Kasey Rae of Skylah Productions of New York City.
"I grew up in the area, and I've always appreciated the historical places, in particular the Hoosac Tunnel, Mohawk Theater, and the old mills," Burchard said. "I think North Adams has a very unique setting, with the mountains surrounding the city and of course, all the steeples.
"The Uncredited" follows a young woman who appears in an independent film. While watching it, her friends notice something disturbing in the background of her scene. This leads to rumors and distrust in even the closest group of friends.
"My goal is to make great characters, and even though it's a spooky thriller the characters in it are just friends sitting down to watch a movie together," Burchard said. "They crack jokes, roast each other, and are all collectively trying to have a good time … but that juxtaposed with the realization that one of them might be hiding something is what creates the thriller edge to this. I think it's really fun."
Spiller added that the film does not rely on horror tropes such as jump scares. She said the screenplay is character-driven.
"It showcases our greatest fear of not knowing the people around us as well as we think," she said. "It makes us second guess who we trust and remember that just being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have horrifying consequences."